The Noble Top Enforcer is an Anti-Villain Dragon
who is considerably more virtuous than the Big Bad
. Why they serve the villain can vary. They could be doing so out of loyalty to him
, loyalty to their nation
, or regarding them as the least bad alternative, or they could just be stuck in their situation through other circumstances
. Expect this character to not do any of the real bad stuff his boss does or perform a Faustian Rebellion
if ordered to do something unpleasant as a way to Take a Third Option
Generally one of the more dangerous types of The Dragon
for two reasons:
- These dragons are often very skilled combatants and/or very intelligent, mitigating their low position on the Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness by being very competent, being at the very least "credible" on the Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness.
- Should the Big Bad do something so vile that it truly pisses them off, the Noble Top Enforcer will be the first one to turn on them, triggering either a Heel-Face Turn or an Enemy Mine scenario. Second most likely member of a Five-Bad Band (behind the Dark Chick) to turn on the Big Bad. This does not mean, however, that they will then join the side of the hero, as they can easily become a Knight Templar in the process, if they weren't one to begin with, or decide that they must become the new Evil Overlord to prevent chaos
Tend to be extremely popular characters because they're highly sympathetic. Having to kill one in a boss fight tends to make the player feel rotten about it
. Their deaths are a common Tear Jerker
Subtrope of The Dragon
. Sub type of Anti-Villain
. Although the Noble Top Enforcer can be all over the place on the Sliding Scale of Anti-Villains
, they commonly trend towards either type I or type IV. Dark Magical Girls
that serve as The Dragon
tend to be type II. Word play on Noble Demon
, which some of them are. Similar to My Master, Right or Wrong
, with one critical difference. While My Master, Right or Wrong
is purely concerned with loyalty, the Noble Top Enforcer is a comparison of the morality of The Dragon
and the Big Bad
. The Good Chancellor
serves as one if in an evil government. Related to Minion with an F in Evil
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Anime and Manga
- While it's left unclear for a long time if Athena in Appleseed is an Anti-Hero or an Anti-Villain, she is clearly not above using every dirty trick at her disposal to maintain the stability of the city Olympus, even if it means intimidating the parliament to do things her way. Her right hand Nike is much more civil and reserved and deals with problems discreetly behind the scenes. To such a degree that she becomes even scarier than her boss.
- Haku, Zabuza's Dragon from Naruto.
- Most Dark Magical Girls in general.
- Fate Testarossa in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha before her Heel-Face Turn.
- Desert Punk's Striker
- Abelia in Now and Then, Here and There is SO MUCH of a better person than the outrageously, ridiculously Evil Big Bad Hamdo that eventually she just leaves him to die after she's had enough.
- Christopher Armalite in Scrapped Princess. Although his immediate superior is a virtuous Cool Old Lady, his orders ultimately come from the corrupt government.
- Freed Justine of Fairy Tail to Laxus Dreyar. Subverted in that Laxus isn't actually evil to begin with, just misguided and immature.
- Bismarck Waldstein is this to Emperor Charles Zi Britannia of Code Geass fame. Bismarck, being the Knight of One, answers directly to his Majesty and Britannia's foreign policy consists of discriminatory imperialism under his rule. Bismarck himself, though, is shown to be a virtuous and honorable soldier; advocating negotiation as being "more practical" before going to all out war and chastising Suzaku for abandoning his compassion in exchange for vengeance. Tellingly, he pilots a Knightmare Frame called the Galahad, named after the most noble of King Arthur's Round Table.
- Ashram in Record of Lodoss War. He is completely loyal to Emperor Beld and one of his most capable generals, but after Beld's death he firmly opposes the actions of the other Marmo leaders and works hard to help the people of his country, while still remaining an enemy of the heroes.
- Folken de Fanel to Emperor Dornkirk in The Vision of Escaflowne. He really did want to see less violence in the world, and eventually decided that the Emperor's Plan wasn't really working for him.
- The Captain in Hellsing is this to The Major. He does not kill Heinkel but rather puts her out of action and gives Seras a fair chance at killing him despite him being much more powerfull than her.
- Kill la Kill's Gamagoori Ira is head of Honnouji Academy's Disciplinary Committee, one of the most loyal members of the regime, and possibly the most ruthlessly brutal man his opponents have the misfortune to go against. When not on duty, he not only avoids fighting when possible, he also goes out of his way to help a student in need, for instance letting Ryuko and Mako hitch a ride.
- Gomez in pretty much every incarnation of Birdy the Mighty, as he works for the terrorist Christella Revi but also lends advice and help to Birdy on a number of occasions. In Decode this makes him an interesting foil to the first season's villain, Shyamalan, whom he attempts to dissuade from deploying a super weapon on Earth—despite the fact that Gomez is not human, while Shyamalan is.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Damodara in Belisarius Series. Reconstructed by making the dynamic among the leaders of the Malwa Empire into a major and central plot point.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the cold and ruthless Tywin Lannister has his strongest supporter in his brother Kevan, a family man and generally decent guy who supports Tywin unconditionally because he feels that Tywin's harshness is necessary for the good of their family/the realm. He also saw early the long shadow his eldest brother would cast, and while their other brothers struggle to get out of it (and die doing so), he decides to make himself useful in it. In A Dance With Dragons, he's killed by Varys himself and his little birds, Varys fearing that he might undo the trainwreck his niece Cersei caused. Even Varys, typically a cold and calculating operator, seems to regret killing a man who isn't really a bad guy.
- Trapped on Draconica: Taurok insists on fighting fair and hates getting civilians involved in his boss' pursuit of the heroes. Gothon, by contrast, will do anything to accomplish his Evil Plan. He would have turned on Gothon long ago if the guy didn't have his family hostage. Ultimately does so anyway.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Planet of the Ood", the baddie of the week's chief scientist was working to free the Ood the whole time.
- Villamax to Trakeena in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, who becomes pissed when Trakeena goes too far. He dies for it though.
- Before the events of Stargate SG-1, Teal'c was this to Apophis. Apophis had crossed the Moral Event Horizon well before Teal'c's birth, so his reason for betraying him was more "at last I can".
- Evil Spock in "Mirror, Mirror". He may be evil, but he's still a Vulcan, and therefore bound to act "logically". This makes him somewhat more honourable than his human crewmates.
- Breaking Bad: Mike Ermantraut to Gus Fring. Where Gus is shown to be ruthless, cold-hearted and malicious with absolutely no qualms about killing kids or Walt's family, Mike's "half-measure" speech to Walt, his initial change of heart about leaving Lydia's daughter orphaned and his appalled reaction to Todd killing a kid show that he is at least a more noble person than his late boss.
- The Tudors: The Duke of Suffolk. The rest of the court is filled with fanatical churchmen, corrupt courtiers, and yes-men. He's the king's best friend and Lancer. In each season, he becomes a more benevolent character, and every time Henry decides to be a bastard in front of him, he looks dismayed.
- In The Order of the Stick, the Big Bad Xykon is only interested in power. His Dragon, Redcloak, is an Anti-Villain who wants nothing more than a better life for his people but is willing to go to extreme lengths, such as working for Xykon, in order to achieve his goals.
- During his brief stint as Co-Dragons for Ozai, Zuko was a Noble Top Enforcer, complete with a defection as a result of Ozai going too far. During the rule of Azulon, Ozai and Iroh's father, Iroh functioned more or less as this, still his genial self but fully dedicated to prosecuting the Fire Nation's war. It took the death of his son in the siege of Ba Sing Se to fully turn him face.
- Bruton from Dinosaur.
- Paige from TRON: Uprising, who serves General Tessler out of gratitude for saving her life, but doesn't condone some of his more extreme actions.
- Starscream gets this type of Characterization in Transformers Armada. In contrast to past installments of the character this version of Starscream had a code of honor, which caused him to conflict with Megatron.
- In The Venture Bros., Henchman 21 becomes this for the Monarch in Season 4 after Taking A Level In Badass. He's Affably Evil at worst, and his extreme loyalty to the Monarch keeps him around. When finally pushed too far, he quits to join SPHINX at the end of the season. After SPHINX is destroyed and he's led to believe that he has been betrayed by Sgt. Hatred in Season 5, he rejoins the Monarch.